The Fans of HockeyNewsWomen's Hockey#HWL2015 (W): Netherlands vs Korea in Final, India play Japan for 5th Place
  • Netherlands confirm ticket to Rio 2016 Olympic Games with a guaranteed top two finish
  • Defeated Australia assured of Olympic berth regardless of 3-4 play-off meeting with New Zealand
Indian vice-captain Deepika and Goalie Savita Punia in action during FINTRO Hockey World League Semi Final 2015 against Belgium (Credits: Frank Uijlenbroek)

Tight defence led by Deepika and crucial saves by Goalie Savita Punia will be key against Japan in 5th place play off in FINTRO Hockey World League Semi Final 2015 against Belgium (Credits: Frank Uijlenbroek)

The Netherlands and Korea reached the women’s competition final of the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Antwerp after winning semi-final against Australia and New Zealand respectively.

Goals from Carlien van den Heuvel, Maartje Paumen, Ginela Zerbo, Lidewij Welten and Willemijn Bos helped the Netherlands defeat Australia to book their place in the final. They are now certain to finish in the top two, guaranteeing Netherlands one of the three available tickets to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Korea claimed their place in the showpiece final with a dramatic shoot-out victory over New Zealand, which leaves the Black Sticks needing to defeat Australia in the 3-4 play-off match if they are to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympics.

With Korea already having already achieved Olympic qualification by virtue of winning the Asian Continental Championship last year, a certain top three finish here in Belgium opens the door to the highest ranked of the fourth place finishers from the HWL Semi-Final events in Valencia and Antwerp.

This is good news for Australia, who sit higher in the FIH rankings than Valencia’s fourth placed team Argentina, meaning that should the Hockeyroos lose against the Black Sticks, they will still be handed the ticket to Rio ahead of the Pan American giants. The Black Sticks are below Argentina in the world rankings, and will therefore need to defeat their Oceania rivals to absolutely guarantee their Olympic berth at this event.

Earlier in the day, India and Japan both needed shoot-outs to take victories in their respective 5-8 play-off matches against Italy and host nation Belgium. All set to play for the 5th position in the ongoing tournament as well as keeping the hopes for a berth in the RIO Olympics 2016 alive, the Indian team will now aiming to beat Japan and come out victorious.

The Indian Women team last met Japan during the Hawke’s Bay Cup 2015 where at one point the former was trailing the 0-2 but came back strong to win 3-2, leaving the opponents stunned. This time around the Indian team would play to repeat the same feat and win the all important match. With stakes high, both teams are aware of the importance of a win tomorrow and will leave no stone unturned to ensure the game goes in their favour.

Speaking on the all important game, Goalkeeper Savita said “I think the defence will be the key tomorrow. We have to ensure we close the gaps, not allow easy access to our D, not give away penalty corners and hold the fort strong. This will help boost the attack to go for the kill. The initial goal will matter the most tomorrow and we are aware of that. The target from here is to stay in contention for RIO and a win takes us a step closer towards what we are aiming for. While we beat Japan last time around, we are not taking it as a ticket to a win tomorrow. We are aware that Japan too would be playing for the same cause and hence stakes are high.

Speaking on the match, Chief Coach Mathias Ahrens said “All departments will have to deliver tomorrow. While scoring the goals are important, saving those crucial goals will be the key. We had a meeting and we are clear that we have to close the gaps and not allow them easy opportunities. They are a strong team and we have to be alert against them.

The final day of the women’s competition takes place on Saturday 4th July, which will conclude with final match between The Netherlands and Korea. As well as the big matches of the day, the 5-6 play-off between India and Japan will also be fiercely contested as a fifth place finish would provide an increased chance of qualifying for Rio following the completion of the Continental Championships. India will contest for the 5th/6th position on 4th July 2015 against Japan at 1630 HRS IST. The matches will be telecasted LIVE on Star Sports.

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